As is known, Boston University
An information event at my university made me think seriously about studying abroad for a semester for the first time. After I had thought about where I would like to study, I decided on the east coast of the USA, more precisely on Boston University. In making this decision, it mainly helped me to talk to fellow students from higher semesters about their experiences abroad, but intensive conversations with friends and family were also important, and last but not least, the information and experiences I received through College Contact.
Even during the first information event and in the many discussions, the high organizational effort was discussed again and again. In retrospect, I can only confirm this. You should take about a year to plan. During the preparation phase, but also in the first few weeks in Boston, there was a lot to coordinate: early exam dates had to be agreed with professors, as the semester times in Germany and the USA differ significantly, conditions for the application had to be clarified and Information about the scholarship and BAföG abroad had to be obtained, just to name the most important ones.
When applying to Boston University, the information package and the email contact with College Contact were very helpful. After I roughly knew what the rough steps are, I started with the English test.
Boston University accepts both the IELTS and TOEFL tests as evidence of adequate English proficiency. I chose the TOEFL test because test dates for this test are more common in my hometown. As far as I have heard, the two tests do not differ much in their claims and the costs are about the same. I paid around € 250 for the TOEFL test. To prepare for the TOEFL test, I borrowed the official preparatory reading from my library and worked through it in a relaxed manner in about 2 weeks. The TOEFL test consists of four sections - reading, writing, listening, speaking - each of which is rated equally. You have a certain amount of time available for each section.
Overall, the test takes 3 to 4 hours, with a 10-minute break after the first two sections. During the break you can go to the toilet and stretch your legs in a certain area, but we were not allowed to leave the building. If you need a break during one of the sections, there is unfortunately no way to stop the time.
In retrospect, I would prepare for the test again and not spend any money on additional materials.
For the application process at Boston University, contact College Contact a detailed package of documents and information together. These then have to be worked through step by step. It is important that you always keep an eye on the application for a semester abroad at your university or college in Germany. Find out about application deadlines here in good time.
I partly financed my stay abroad with the outward-going scholarship (HUW) and with a grant from the BAföG Abroad Office. The best thing to do is to find out more about the HUW scholarship or other options at your International Office. The application for BAföG abroad was a torture. If you apply for BAföG in Germany, you already know a little about the documents, but there are a lot of other details that have to be submitted. I therefore recommend submitting the application as early as possible. Much of the documents and information required by the office are not yet available to you. Just let them know when they are likely to be available. Here, too, it is important that you observe the deadlines. You usually have 4 weeks to submit documents later. Even if you do not receive a domestic BAföG, it can be worthwhile to apply because the guidelines for international funding are lower than for domestic funding.
College Contact will also provide you with a document with all the important information for applying for a visa. It's been a while since I applied for the visa, but I'll try to summarize what I still remember. First you have to register online with two US portals, one of them to apply for your SEVIS form, the other to apply for your F1 visa. For the SEVIS form you have to answer a questionnaire; that took some time. For the F1 you also have to answer a few questions and then make an appointment with one of the US consulates in Germany. You have to pay around $ 350 for both forms at this point, so it's best to have a credit card ready at this point.
I had my appointment at the US consulate in Berlin because that was the closest to me. Depending on what time your appointment is, you may have to plan an overnight stay in the corresponding city. Note, however, that you have almost NOTHING! to take with you to the consulate. That means: no bags or backpacks, also no handbags, no cell phones or other electronic devices, no liquids, etc ... If you don't have an overnight place where you can leave your things, it is best to lock them up at the main station, as it is in gives the consulates no opportunities to include or deliver anything (at least not in Berlin). For my visit, I only had a bag with all the necessary documents and change for the bus and train and no problems. Be there a little earlier (30min) than your actual appointment, as a line usually forms at the security check. All in all, the visit took about two hours, which was very quick.
Looking for a flat in Boston was one of the most stressful prep tasks. I started the search about two months before the start of the semester and searched for up to three days before the start of the semester and stayed at the hostel until then. In principle, however, you first have to decide whether you want to live on-campus or off-campus, i.e. whether you want to live in a dorm room at Boston University (on-campus), or whether you want to rent a room in a shared apartment on your own seeks. The prices and conditions of on-campus housing can be found on the BU's website. The cheapest option for me would have been a dorm room with two to three people. Since most dorms do not have a kitchen, but only a microwave and refrigerator, you have to book a food plan with which you can then eat in one of the three dining halls. There are also different versions of the food plans at corresponding prices. The cheapest combination would still have cost me $ 7,500.
Since I like to cook, prefer my own room and wanted to spend as little money as possible, I decided to look for a room in a shared apartment. Unfortunately, this option isn't exactly cheap either. Boston is generally a very expensive city and housing in particular is expensive. In the end, I got lucky and found a room for $ 650 a month. The room was in Cambridge, however, so I had a good walk to walk every day. By bus and train between 30 minutes and 1.5 hours, depending on traffic and time. A room for $ 650 is extremely cheap though! On average I would say a rent of $ 800 per month plus utilities (between $ 50-150 depending on the time of year) is realistic. However, prepare yourself for an intensive search. I made many friends who paid $ 1000 and more for their room.
So if you decide to find your own room, there are several online portals you can search on. First of all, I recommend the BU's off-campus housing portal. There, BU students offer their rooms to be taken over or to be sublet. The chances of finding a room with the right data here are great. Since leases in the USA run for at least one year, many internationals or transfer students are looking for new tenants here.
Regardless of the BU, I regularly searched four other portals: craigslist.com, roommates.com, easyroommate.com and roomster.com. Searching on these portals takes some time, but craigslist.com in particular has many offers. When looking for fake offers, watch out! Do not be prepared to pay a security deposit in advance if you have not seen the room beforehand or if you have not received any seriously trustworthy documents.
Another option that you should use are Facebook groups. There are plenty of housing groups out there, whether they are generally for Boston or specifically for BU students. I ended up finding my room through Craigslist, but also only when I was in Boston. As I said, looking for an apartment was very stressful for me and it will probably be the same for you, but you can be sure that you will find something in the end, even if you have not yet confirmed a room at the time of your departure. In an emergency, you can also rent a room in the ESL Townhouse. However, these are very expensive ($ 450 per week).
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The semester abroad
Boston is a very nice city, characterized by many old brick buildings. But still not to be compared with European cities or New York. The city of Boston has a little over 600,000 inhabitants; if you include the neighboring city of Cambridge and the region, you get over a million. Since my semester started in January, I took the cold months in Boston with me. Even if my winter was comparatively mild, the temperature can drop to minus 20 degrees without any problems and there is plenty of snow. The cold season begins, similar to ours, in October / November and continues into April. Yet the winter in Boston is also very beautiful, very cold but comparatively much sunshine. The summer, on the other hand, is a little warmer than in Germany.
In my five months, Boston seemed rather conservative to me, for example clubs, bars and pubs have to close at 2:00 a.m. by law. Despite the many universities and a high percentage of students, I missed the influence of students on the city, which may be due to the fact that students and the rest of the population are very focused on their studies or their jobs. But don't worry, depending on what you're looking for, you can also spend your time here at house parties or just throw yourself into your studies.
Even if the youth culture in Boston is not very pronounced, the city has a lot to offer when it comes to art. The Museum of Fine Arts is definitely worth a visit and entry is free for BU students. Personally, I also really liked the Isabell Steward Gardner Museum. If you arrive a few days or weeks before the start of the semester, which I would highly recommend, the Freedome Trail, a city tour along the historical sights, offers an optimal chance to get to know the city. Boston Common and the Public Garden, both parks in the center of the city, are worth a visit at any time of the year. I also really enjoyed spending time in the Beacon Hill and South End neighborhoods or along the Charles River.
The public transport network is relatively well developed by American standards. At the beginning of the semester, I ordered the semester ticket (T-Pass) through the BU. The ticket costs around $ 260 and is valid from February through May. However, this is only worthwhile if you have to take the train every day. A regular monthly pass is only $ 80 as far as I can remember.
As already mentioned, Boston is more of an expensive city. I budgeted $ 600 a month for food and other items (excluding rent and T-Pass) and more or less managed to get there, but I also lived frugally and often cooked at home. Eating out starts at around $ 10 per meal, a cappuccino in a café costs $ 4-5 and groceries in the supermarket often cost twice as much as what we are used to. If you want to buy fruit and vegetables very cheaply, you should go to the Haymarket on Fridays or Saturdays.
The Boston University campus is two miles along Commonwealth Avenue. The university is divided into 12 colleges for the fields of study. Depending on whether your home university has a partner agreement with the BU, you can either choose freely from the courses offered by the BU or you will be limited to courses at a specific college. You can find them on campus unbelievably many sports and leisure activities, which you can best find out about on the BU website. You will also get the most important information at the introductory event at the beginning of the semester. I am briefly listing the buildings on campus that I have used most frequently. I spent most of the semester at the Mugar Library, like most other international students. Mugar is the main library of the BU. It is located relatively in the middle of the campus. The GSU, a BU food mall, is right next to Mugar. If you haven't booked a food plan and don't go home to cook for lunch, you will likely eat there. The GSU offers nine stands with different dishes. You can get sushi, burgers, salads, sandwiches, Asian, soups and other things here. Typically, a meal costs between $ 6 and $ 10. The BU also offers you a fitness center that you can use free of charge. To do this, you have to go to FitRec (Fitness & Recreation Center) and register there on one of the computers. Then you can use the full range of FitRec. This includes the fitness center, a climbing wall, two swimming pools, a 400m indoor track, several basketball courts and halls for other sports. Also the offer for outdoor sports is enormouslike a rowing and sailing boathouse. However, since I was there in winter, I only used the fitness center.
Since my university is not a partner university of the BU, I was only allowed to choose courses from the Metropolitan (MET) College. Unfortunately, I don't know exactly which requirements your university has to meet in order to have a free choice at the other colleges. The MET was actually set up to give working people the opportunity to take courses on the side or to catch up on a degree. In addition, the lectures are filled with international students. This leads to relatively little contact with American students. In retrospect, it didn't bother me too much, as I really enjoyed the time with the international students. Also regardless of the course division I would describe the cohesion between internationals as very strongbecause they all have to deal with the same problems that American students do not have.
However, I often had the feeling that I was receiving a rather second-rate apprenticeship at MET. Some students who previously studied at the Questrom School of Business (BU Business College) have confirmed this again and again. In general, I have made the experience, both personally at the MET and from stories from students at other faculties of the BU or from my flatmates who studied at Harvard, Columbia and Duke, that the scientific claim and the related scientific accuracy go a long way is lower than at European universities and colleges. On the one hand, this is reflected in the depth of the content of the lectures, whereby it was more often a question of discussing as many aspects as possible than questioning and understanding complex models. On the other hand, this can be seen in the design of the lectures. These are, for example, less well thought out or are only planned based on the specifications of a book; Discussions are shorter and, above all, the grading is largely arbitrary and subjective. But don't worry, by that I mean a strong tendency to get good grades.
Even if the scientific claim is lower, that doesn't mean that you don't have to do anything. You can count on homework such as homework, presentations or reading and processing information every week. How intensively you perceive these tasks and how much time you spend on them is up to you. At this point I would recommend paying close attention to what the professor expects of you for the assessments, i.e. the exams in between, and prepare me specifically for it. If you want to do all the tasks in the usual quality, you can easily spend more than 40 hours in the library. I made this mistake and, after realizing it, had difficulty doing the assignments less properly, so that in some cases I spent twice as much time in the library as some of my fellow students. However, there were also a few who felt the same way, so I quickly made friends who shared my day-to-day library life with me.
As already described above, I had to take my courses at the MET. Unfortunately, there are no exceptions to this.I worked my way through the MET's offerings in advance and compared the courses with those that I still had to take at my home university so that I could then have the credits recognized. This is sometimes not so easy as there are only very brief descriptions of the respective courses on the BU website. For a shortlist, I then had the syllabi sent to me via College Contact. This went very quickly and without any problems. The syllabi were then checked individually by the professors at my university. For the courses offered at the BU, you first have to rely on what was available in the previous spring or fall semester. Which courses will actually take place at which times will only be announced a few weeks before the start of the semester, so you may have to make some changes because courses do not take place or are parallel. Since the MET is also for evening students, most courses take place between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. There are very often overlaps. There are usually 4 American credits for the courses at the BU, which are credited to 8 ECTS at my university. It is best to find out beforehand from your International Office how many ECTS you will get for an American credit and how many courses or credits you have to take at least. However, you can still change your selection at the BU in the first few weeks of the semester. Please note, however, that you will of course have to catch up on the missed material.
I then decided on the following four courses following the process described above:
MET MG 410 Entrepreneurial Management - Istvan Bonyhay
I didn't take this course for long. I didn't visit him after the second or third lecture, mainly because I couldn't get on with the professor's methods. Unfortunately, I also had the professor in another class that I couldn't vote out, and it turned out that the professor was actually very bad. So that you can form your own picture, I will briefly describe the situation that ultimately led me to opt out of the course: In the second lecture we talked about psychological theories about human personality. The professor had a clear opinion on the correctness of a certain group of theories and strictly rejected the other theories. In the previous semester, I dealt intensively with the theories he rejected in the Personnel Psychology course, so that a difference of opinion developed at this point. Unfortunately, the professor did not allow any alternative opinions or explanations, broke off my argument in mid-sentence on the grounds that it was wrong ... no further explanation on his part. This behavior continued in this and the next lecture. Opinions or approaches that did not follow the material of the lecture were not admitted and discussions were quickly interrupted. For me, this reflects the opposite of what I mean by studying at a university. The content of the course may be interesting, but I cannot recommend any event with this professor.
MET MG 520 International Business Management - Istvan Bonyhay
As already described, I was unfortunately unable to opt out of this course. I can say in advance that I would not recommend this course either if taught by Istvan. The professor is actually a neurologist and works as a researcher at Harvard Hospital in Boston. He did his Masters in Business at MET, but otherwise only completed medical degrees and, to my knowledge, never worked in business. How you can be hired as a professor for international business management with this résumé is a mystery to me. Unfortunately, I was not positively surprised in the lectures. The professor could only show incomplete knowledge, apart from what the book deals with. This also made it clear to me why further discussions were quickly broken off. About half of the lectures talked about monetary policy, the foreign exchange market and economically related aspects. The remaining aspects of international business were clearly neglected or, in some cases, not dealt with at all. I have already taken economics for two semesters, so I quickly noticed that for the most part only one of many theories on certain topics was discussed. In addition, the professor was not sure how to handle the material taught. In subsequent lectures he had to correct statements that he had previously incorrectly explained or failed to notice fundamental errors. After I tried to discuss some of the models in a lecture and bring in other theories on the same topic, at the end of the lecture he warned me before the entire course by saying that I would ask you not to criticize or question the content of the lecture as long as I'm not an absolute expert in the field. For me, a university education includes asking critical questions and stimulating discussions.
In addition, the assessment framework specified in the syllabus was not adhered to. The professor had randomly unannounced pop-up quizzes written and only announced the composition of the overall grade from the various assessments after the last exam.
Despite the shortcomings in terms of content and organization, I always had an above-average amount of work to do for this course. The two planned quizzes and the final exam each consisted of around 150 multiple-choice questions and 20-30 short-answer questions and lasted two to three hours. In conclusion: a course that was poor in terms of content, organization and pedagogy that took an enormous amount of time and therefore not to be recommended, although surprisingly I got a relatively good grade (A-), but didn't take much away.
MET MG 530 Business Strategy - Walter Sylvia
This was by far the best course I've taken. Walter Sylvia has gained an incredible amount of practical experience. In his course, he passes on this experience to the students in a very application-oriented manner. Precisely because Walter Sylvia has a lot to offer, he expects his students to perform well and is more authoritarian in his dealings with. The course is very time-consuming because a particularly large number of reports and presentations have to be prepared in individual and group work. If you are ready to invest a corresponding amount of work, you can learn a lot in this course. I would definitely recommend Business Strategy.
MET MG 550 International Business Law and Regulation - Robert Barry
Robert Barry is a very relaxed lecturer. At the BU he is known for causing his students very little stress and for wanting to have very little stress himself. However, I acquired most of the knowledge from the book, as the lecture is very dry and you switch off very quickly. This is definitely a course to get a good grade with with little effort. The learning curve is rather low.
I have tried to present my experiences, especially the negative ones, as objectively as possible. However, a certain amount of subjectivity cannot be avoided.
In conclusion, I can say that it was not the experience that others talk about when they come back from a semester abroad. It was a very important and good experience, but also one with ups and downs. I think anyone planning a project like this should be prepared for this. Nevertheless, I would recommend everyone to gain experience abroad. Everyone has to decide for themselves whether in the USA or at the BU.
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